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COVID 19 and diabetes: a lethal partnership? How do we overcome this?

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By Dr. Kayathri Periasamy

With the latest wave of COVID-19 infections sweeping steadily across Sri Lanka, attention has been directed towards persons with uncontrolled, pre-existing conditions, particularly diabetes; as a sect most vulnerable to get severely ill or die because of complications caused by the virus. This has shed light on another growing concern among healthcare providers and patients, which is that patients suffering from diabetes or other chronic conditions are finding it increasingly difficult or are unable to access the medical care they require due to mandatory albeit essential curfew measures combined with a deep fear of contracting the virus in communal healthcare settings.

With a staggering 463 million adult diabetic patients present worldwide, World Diabetes Day 2020 – falling on the 14th of November- is a critical time for diabetes support communities and healthcare advocates to rally together to create awareness about this debilitating medical condition and push for progress in the standards of care and the better management of diabetic patients during a pandemic. In Sri Lanka alone, 1 in 10 adults are approximated to suffer from the disease. It is also then vital to look at ways to help stop more people from getting this disease, particularly at a time when ‘lockdown’ lifestyles are more often than not likely to be sedentary, unhealthy and stressful; an ideal background for a diabetes diagnosis.

Why is uncontrolled diabetes such a potent accelerant for COVID-19?

A recent study conducted by Lancet on Diabetes & Endocrinology screened over 61 million medical records in the U.K. to find that 30% of COVID-19 deaths can be attributed to people with diabetes. After accounting for factors such as demography and chronic medical conditions, the risk of succumbing to the virus was shown to be about three times higher for people with Type 1 diabetes and almost twice as high for Type 2, versus those without the disease. 

There appears to be two primary reasons driving this predicament. Over a lifetime, poor glucose control inflicts widespread damage in our systems which can lead to strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, eye disease, and limb amputations. The linings of blood vessels throughout the body weaken to an extent where they can’t ferry necessary nutrients adequately. Inflammation is another byproduct of poor diabetes control, which makes the body ill-prepared for the onslaught of the viral disease. Secondly, the rich environment of elevated blood glucose present in diabetic patients, makes them prone to superadded bacterial complications during the viral infection. Many diabetics also tend to have other co-morbidities such as obesity, hypertension, and heart disease, which are all factors that aggravate complications during viral illneses. These problems are seen in any infections in the setting of diabetes and not only with COVID 19. The pandemic has just highlighted the difficulties of having diabetes

 

What precautions can diabetic patients take?

So during this pandemic, apart from strict adherence to general COVID-19 personal safety protocols such as strict social distancing and sanitization, it is important for patients to regularly monitor their glucose levels to avoid complications caused by fluctuating blood glucose. Proper hydration is essential for good health. It is also crucial to have access to a good supply of the prescribed diabetes medications and healthy food so that patients are able to correct the situation if blood glucose levels fluctuate. Finally, sticking to a comfortable daily routine, maintaining an exercise program even within the confines of your home, reducing excessive work and having a good night’s sleep can go a long way in keeping you strong. In essence, maintaining good blood sugar levels may be their best defense against severe COVID-19.

Disruption to continuity of care for diabetes patients

A rapid assessment survey conducted by WHO among Ministries of Health across many countries, focusing on the service delivery for NCDs during the COVID-19 pandemic, revealed deepening concerns that many people living with NCDs are no longer receiving appropriate treatment or access to medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic. The more severe the transmission phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the more NCD care services were disrupted.

With our country currently in the cluster transmission phase and heading towards the community transmission phase due to the large and distant spread of the first-line contacts, the threat to NCD care and especially routine and emergency care of diabetes patients worries us physicians. As healthcare providers, we too are torn between the dilemma of not wanting to expose our patients to unnecessary hospital visits and the need to ensure that all our patients have continued access to their healthcare team along with a steady supply of medicines and other diabetes care products such as glucometer strips and insulin. Unfortunately, the delay in visiting their healthcare provider when they have symptoms of complications has caused many people to present late to the hospital with heart attacks or infections. A delayed presentation, weakens the patient further.

This disruption to healthcare services is foreseen to be a huge dilemma for patients and healthcare providers alike, especially when it comes to the care of patients with diabetes and other non-communicable diseases. In Sri Lanka, the Ministry of Health, is currently providing a number of telemedicine services and has opened avenues to deliver medicines to houses without diabetic persons having to visit crowded settings

 

How do we counter this?

At Healthy Life Clinic, we adhere strictly to COVID-19 safety operational health protocols established according to Ministry of Health (MOH), Epidemiology Unit. All incoming patients are screened by our nurses as soon as appointments are made over the phone, to understand the nature of their illness. If there is a worry that they could have contracted COVID-19 or have been in contact with such patients, they are given the opportunity to speak to the doctor first over the phone for a detailed history. Every patient will be consulted and no one is turned away from our care.

In order to help patients overcome barriers such as curfews or even the fear of entering communal healthcare settings, our experienced, highly-regarded team of consultants conducts telehealth consultations via established, trusted telemedicine partners such as oDoc and Mydoctor.lk to maintain continuity of care throughout this pandemic. We have also moved many of our long-standing diabetes care and weight management programs online, which have proven to be effective even in the absence of a physical meeting and examination. Additionally, our social media platforms and website are constantly updated to increase awareness about this condition, along with content that informs people about the proper management and prevention of diabetes – particularly when it is thus connected to COVID-19.

 

(Dr. Kayathri Periasamy is a consultant physician MBBS (UK), MRCP (UK), Board Certified in Int. Medicine (U.S.A). She is the founder of Healthy Life Clinic, Colombo 07.)



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Strong Q4 net profit growth boosts Teejay Lanka’s outlook for year ahead

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Teejay Lanka Chairman Ajit Gunewardene (left) and CEO MPubudu De Silva

Strong net profit growth in the final quarter of 2023-24 has enabled Teejay Lanka PLC to end the financial year on an optimistic note despite the impacts of the appreciation of the Rupee, which contributed to its 12-month results falling below those of the preceding year.

Sri Lanka’s first multinational textile manufacturer has reported net profit of Rs 549.1 million for the three months ending 31st March 2024, up 260% over the corresponding quarter of the previous year and a 15% improvement over the preceding quarter.

Despite an increase in sales volumes, the Group’s revenue for the quarter, at Rs 15.3 billion, was down 4% over the figure for the third quarter of the year and 12% lower than the revenue of the corresponding quarter of the previous year. This was due to the appreciation of the Sri Lanka Rupee.

For the year ending 31st March 2024, Teejay Lanka reported revenue of Rs 60.8 billion, profit before tax of Rs 1.6 billion, and net profit of Rs 1.1 billion, reflecting declines of 28%, 49% and 48% respectively over 2022-23 as a result of the softening of the global market conditions during the year.

Nevertheless, the Group ended the financial year with a strong balance sheet with a cash and cash equivalents balance of Rs 8.9 billion and a net assets base of Rs 30.1 billion. Teejay’s net assets value per share of Rs 42 was lower by 6% when compared to the corresponding quarter, stemming from the strengthening of the Rupee against the Dollar, the Group said.

“The Group has reported gross profit of Rs 1.5 billion representing a year-on-year increase of 27% and a 17% increase when compared to the third quarter, as a result of the effective utilisation of the Group’s capacity at its two locations,” Teejay Lanka CEO Pubudu De Silva said. “Further optimisation of capacity utilisation and operational efficiency and stability in yarn prices have positively contributed to this growth, strengthening our confidence for the year ahead.”

Commenting on the Group’s performance in the concluded financial year, Teejay Lanka Chairman Ajit Gunewardene said it was encouraging to note the success of the multifaceted strategic initiatives undertaken to reverse the losses of the first quarter and to respond to market dynamics.

Gunewardene added: “The Group’s long-term priorities include digitalization, establishing and executing a robust ESG framework, reducing costs, developing new products, enhancing synthetic capacity, and uplifting and empowering human capital to enhance resourcefulness. These strategies are expected to come into effect in the current financial year, indicating promising prospects for the future and enabling the Group to mitigate the impact of identified pressures, volatilities, and challenges.”

The Teejay Group owns manufacturing facilities in Sri Lanka and India, along with a state-of-the-art printing facility in Sri Lanka. An ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015 and OHSAS 18001:2007 compliant company and the first in the industry to develop green fabric, Teejay Lanka was also the first textile manufacturer in Sri Lanka to receive membership of the US Cotton Trust Protocol. Teejay is a public quoted company with 40 per cent public ownership and the backing of Sri Lanka’s largest apparel exporter Brandix Lanka which has a 33 per cent stake in the Company. Pacific Textiles of Hong Kong, whose key shareholder is the Tokyo Stock Exchange listed Toray Industries Inc., owns 27 per cent of Teejay Lanka.(Teejay Lanka)

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SriLankan Cargo partners with CargoAi to enhance airfreight booking and payment experience

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SriLankan Cargo, the cargo arm of SriLankan Airlines, has partnered with CargoAi, a leader in digital freight solutions, to simplify and enhance the airfreight booking and payment process for users

SriLankan Cargo, the cargo arm of SriLankan Airlines, has partnered with CargoAi, a leader in digital freight solutions, to simplify and enhance its airfreight booking and payment processes, and bring more transparency and velocity for users than ever.

The integration of SriLankan Cargo’s airfreight services into CargoAi’s ecosystem gives users access to online booking and instant cross-border payment capabilities, while allowing SriLankan Cargo to increase its reach and support forwarders that were previously untapped.

CargoAi’s integration with SriLankan Cargo also streamlines payment processes by offering multiple payment methods, ranging from local transfers to credit card payments, removing the reliance on cash payments and enhancing security and efficiency in financial transactions. Additionally, CargoAi’s CargoWALLET platform facilitates the reconciliation process, automating tasks that were previously manual and time-consuming.

For freight forwarders, the integration also means that they no longer need to provide a bank guarantee or pay yearly subscriptions. Everything is seamlessly integrated with CargoMART, simplifying operations and reducing overhead costs, allowing forwarders to focus on core business operations without the burden of administrative complexities.

Chaminda Perera, Head of Cargo of SriLankan Airlines commented by saying, “Our partnership with CargoAi marks another significant stride in our digitalization journey, aimed at expanding our horizons. We will be able to enhance the visibility of our inventory and offer customers a convenient airfreight booking experience. We are looking forward to extending our market reach and engaging with businesses of all scales with CargoAi.”

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Mövenpick Hotel Colombo unveils ‘Space’ wellness brand

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Mövenpick Hotel Colombo proudly introduces ‘Space’, an innovative wellness brand designed to transcend boundaries and cultivate a culture of holistic well-being. The launch of ‘Space’ underscores the hotel’s unwavering commitment to fostering a vibrant and sustainable living experience for all.

‘Space’ represents a transformative leap forward for Mövenpick Hotel Colombo, consolidating its diverse offerings into a singular platform dedicated to holistic wellness. From the rejuvenating embrace of dance therapy to the serene tranquility of outdoor yoga and the invigorating energy of cross-functional fitness, ‘Space’ curates an unparalleled array of experiences tailored to nurture the mind, body, and spirit. Complemented by a thoughtfully curated selection of therapeutic treatments and a culinary journey inspired by the principles of nourishment and balance, ‘Space’ promises to redefine wellness in Colombo.

At its core, ‘Space’ is more than a brand – it’s a philosophy, advocating for the creation of space for oneself and others in the pursuit of a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle. Through its multifaceted approach to wellness, ‘Space’ invites individuals to reclaim their well-being, fostering a sense of empowerment, connection, and community.

In a bold move towards inclusivity and accessibility, Mövenpick Hotel Colombo has brought together its entire spectrum of wellness offerings under the umbrella of ‘Space’. By consolidating these diverse experiences into one cohesive platform, the hotel seeks to ensure that every individual in the community has the opportunity to access and benefit from the transformative power of wellness. From guests seeking a rejuvenating escape to locals yearning for a sanctuary of self-discovery, ‘Space’ offers a welcoming embrace to all who seek balance and vitality.

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